With the major hurdles behind me, can I learn to live here?
We think in generalities, but we live in detail
My new laptop seems to be setup; most of the twists and turns of the long and winding road are behind me, I hope. There's a little residual anxiety about the display drivers. I gather I'd get some hardware acceleration if I could get the NVIDIA drivers to work. I wonder how often kernel upgrades will bite me in the *ss.
The UI isn't as pretty as OS X. Or as consistent; I have a reasonably deep understanding of what's going on, I can adapt to a little inconsistency. I wonder how users with considerably less experience make out. I can't imagine teaching my mother to use Linux. I haven't really succeeded in teaching her how to use her iPad. (You know, those apps aren't as consistent as you've likely been lead to believe.)
Complicated apps like the IntelliJ IDE feel a little klunky. I suppose something like Cinnamon would help. I like to tinker so I'll try it every now and then and eventually, as this hardware ages, the drivers reach maturity, the bugs get fixed, it'll work.
If you live your life in relative freedom, not connected to the corporate enterprise in any material way, I don't see any reason why Linux isn't a perfectly servicable desktop. You live with a particular selection of applications, but that's true no matter what platform you choose.
If you have to use corporate systems (by which I mean Exchange, its evil minion Lookout!, and Office), you are fucked.
It's all a total train wreck. Evolution kind of, sort of works but it is ugly. I expect Thunderbird and some of the other apps work about as well. Which is to say not very. Packages like LibreOffice can open Office documents. Usually. More-or-less. But not really well enough.
I gave up. I run Windows (8.1, subject of another screed someday, perhaps) in a VM. In VMWare, specifically, because their “Unity” view actually seems to work fairly well. So for my calendar, I am in fact using Outlook. On Windows. (No, I haven't worked out how I'm going to download all that data for my own personal archive; DavMail, maybe. Yes, I am concerned.) That approach will work for Evernote too, and with a beefier VM, perhaps Photoshop and Lightroom as well.
The interaction between VMWare, multiple monitors, and Windows 8.1 is a bit of a mess but it doesn't appear to cause any real problems, just a weird scrolling desktop and VMWare occasionally leaping to some “maximized” state where it splashes itself across all the displays. Not usefully, alas.
Just slightly removed from the office enterprise clusterf**k is WebEx. It can kind of, sort of be made to work if you install 32 bit versions of Java and Firefox and line the stars up just right. Or you can do what a colleague does and run WebEx in a Windows VM with a VNC back to your Linux desktop. (No, I am not joking.)
I figure the longer I keep this working, the less likely that I'll give up.
But I don't think I'm out of the woods just yet.